What is a Laureate?

laureate noun

lau-re-ate | lȯr-ē-ət

A person who is honoured for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement.

 

The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary

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In ancient times, the laurel
(an evergreen shrub or small tree) was sacred to 
the Greek and Roman god Apollo.

This association meant that sprigs of its leaves were made into crowns or wreaths and given to poets and heroes as a mark of honour.

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Even with the passing of time, the title endured. In the early 17th Century, the appointment of the first 'Poet Laureate' in the UK, cemented its place in our language. The poet laureate is an honorary position given to a poet by a government or institution, such as a royal office. The poet laureate is typically meant to compose poems for special occasions.

While you may find 'Laureate' more widely used today, it remains a mark of honour and respect given to someone deserving of great distinction in their field.